Is your boat trailer ready for the road? If not, you'll be on the side of the road with trailer damage, including a large towing and repair bill. Anglers often work on their boats and tackle before going fishing, but trailers are often overlooked even though your boat spends more time on them than it does in the water. All it takes to keep your trailer on the road is a little preventive maintenance. Follow these easy steps and all your fish stories will be about the big fish you caught, not the day you spent big money and time waiting on a tow truck.
There are two types of maintenance that boat trailers need; yearly and monthly maintenance. Yearly maintenance's include the checking out of major trailer components, once maintained these items generally get you through the season without further care. These yearly maintenance's may possibly mean a trip to your local dealership service department depending on your mechanically ability. Monthly maintenance is a simple and easy check over of your boat trailer systems that most anglers can do themselves and are visible to the eye and are common sense items. These are the items that will prevent you from being stuck on the side of the road during the fishing and boating season.
Let's take a in depth look at yearly maintenance's, these major trailer components that include; brakes systems, trailer coupler, suspension systems, hubs, bearings, bunks and frame. These items when properly maintained will not need addressed through out the year unless you notice a problem during your monthly inspection. The brake system on most of today's trailers use disc brakes with an actuator with master cylinder in the coupler, these systems have no adjustments necessary, so if they are working properly and have no loose hardware or bolts, they are good to go. If they are not working properly or are leaking brake fluid you must have them repaired. Failure to repair these components will cost a lot of money down the road and stopping distance will increase possibly causing a safety issue for you and those around you. Trailer suspensions vary by manufactures design, some use leaf spring, while other have changed over to torsion axles. The most important items to look for in suspension are loose or worn parts. Loose bolts or worn shackles are common on older leaf spring suspensions, if they fail the axle becomes unattached from the trailer, not good. Poor tire wear is also common indicator that can be caused by worn suspension parts. Hubs and bearings should be repacked or have the oil changed according to your trailer manufactures recommended service schedule, but if you have any leaking or notice low oil levels address this immediately. Heat is the enemy of bearings, and low oil, water and old grease causes friction. The last thing to check once a year is the frame components; these include the winch stand, cross members and bunk or roller brackets. Look for loose components, rusted brackets, cracked parts and welds. Problems should be addressed by replacement or repaired. If you do not have the needed expertise to handle these checks and repairs, take your trailer to someone who can handle it for you, safety is not something to mess around with.
When looking at your monthly trailer maintenance's be sure to check items that include; tires and wheels, lighting system, winches, transom tie downs, trailer couplers and safety chains. These items when checked regularly will keep you on the road or send you to the repair shop before it has chance to leave you stranded on the side of the road. Tires and wheels are easy to check, look for cracks in the tire sidewalls, poor tire wear, loose lug nuts, rusted or corroded wheels and check the tire pressure. Tire pressure affects; tread wear, trailer ride and even trailer tongue weight on a tandem axle trailer so it is very important to have your tires inflated correctly. Get down on your knees and look at the inside of the wheel hubs, if there is a little grease slung around the hub, no big deal, if the grease or oil is slung all over the wheel and tire, get it fixed before the bearings fail and leaves you on the side of the road. Lights are another easy item to check item, when you hook up your truck, check to make sure all the lites are working, we all leave early to go fishing and sometime come home in the dark. If your lites don't work others can not see what you are doing and a ticket can be expensive. It only takes a minutes to address any light issues you may find. Winches, winch straps and transom tie downs hold your boat on the trailer, if they fail your boat could come off when you hit that bump out on the highway. Look for wear, tears, rusted or loose bolts and fasteners, bent or crack hooks on these items. These are easy to repair or replace and can save you many headaches with only a few minutes of inspection. The last monthly item to check is your connection to the vehicle, the trailer coupler, safety chains, light plug, swing tongue pin or lock and emergency safety breakaway cable. Look for rusted, missing or loose components and replace as needed. One of the best times to check your trailer is when your are in the parking lot at the boat ramp, with your boat in the water, take just a minute to walk around your trailer, check the hubs, bunks and bunk brackets. With the boat not sitting on the trailer these checks are even easier to do. None of these monthly maintenance items take very long to check, but not checking them could cost big dollars and time on the water.
I hope this blog gave you some help on keeping up with your boat trailer's maintenance, remember your boat trailer is your boat's home. A few minutes every month will save you hours of problems out on the highway. MARE Inc. "Serving All Your Boating Needs Since 1968".
Phone: MARE Inc.: 301-898-3717
MARE of Aquia: 540-657-1136
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MARE Inc. Boating & Fishing